Way back in 2019 – pre-pandemic and all that 2020 brought us – a Manheim Township couple looked ahead to what 2021 would likely signify to their family: their two 50th birthdays, as well as their 25th wedding anniversary, and their son’s 18th birthday and graduation from high school. This lineup of events, they agreed, called for a party. And not just any party. A bash!
Enter Heather Colosi, an event planner and 20-year friend of the couple, who took their vision and ran with it. “We want to have a party. Tell us what to do,” were the marching orders, along with the understanding that “high-level glam” described the couple’s taste. Heather paired their fondness for sleek style, crystal and shimmer with many nods to the distinct personalities of family members.
At home was the preferred party destination, and Heather saw the couple’s expansive four-acre property as the perfect site for a tent for the mid-July celebration. Actually, three tents connected by canopies to keep everyone dry in case of rain served the 240 guests as they dined, danced and were entertained with surprises throughout the evening.
But first, a garden needed to be grown to provide a lush backdrop for the sparkling-white tents. A gardening enthusiast, Heather planned the garden, shopped for plants and coached the host on his watering and fertilizing skills – a new level of party-planning services! “We also harvested many items from the garden that were used in the cocktails and garnishes for the party,” says Heather.
Unique menu items made the party an expression of the couple’s personalities. From the hostess’ family recipes, Norwegian meatballs were a “must” on the buffet, as was beef stroganoff over rice, a Christmas Eve specialty from the host’s German heritage. Add a chef-attended raw bar, individual salads in glass spheres presented on floating shelves, an elaborate taco bar, a myriad of cakes, desserts, a candy bar and Italian ice, and the feast was fit for both adults and the 30-some teens who joined the party.
With 16 months to plan, the ideas grew. “We realized that, while we had much to celebrate, so did our guests in this post-Covid world,” says the hostess, who included that thought in the invitation by asking guests to share what they are celebrating and to send photos along with their RSVPs to create a collective display of joy and gratitude.
The couple planned a special dance to kick off the evening with a much-practiced swing dance to In the Mood by Glenn Miller. The hostess also wanted to surprise her husband with a song to commemorate their 45-year-long relationship and their 25th anniversary. Gifted with a lovely singing voice, she secretly rehearsed with the Philadelphia-based band and serenaded her love with a sweet-but-sultry rendition of the bossa nova-style Italian love song, Quando, Quando, Quando, from the stage. “It’s very different from cantoring from the choir loft,” she laughs. “But, I pulled it off.”
Heather wanted to enjoy the party as a guest, so she handed the day-of duties to event-planning colleague Kaci Willwerth and her team at Simple Soiree. As summer evenings often bring, a downpour of rain arrived mid-party. Good-natured guests weathered the storm as the party planners grabbed squeegees to remove any wetness from the dance floor.
A menu of late-night bites capped the big night, and guests caught their second wind with a round of sliders, popcorn, pizza, munchies and refreshing chocolate cordials. In the early morning hours, the hostess recalls thinking, “Wow, we just threw a kickin’ party. I have no regrets.” Her husband concurs, saying, “The whole point was to make our friends happy – I think we achieved that.”
How did you do that?
Event Planner – Heather Colosi, Will Do For You Concierge
Catering – The JDK Group
Production Design & Lighting – Shumaker PDT
Band – L.A. Starz, EBE Talent
Invitation Suite and Signage – Persnickety
Day-of Event Coordinators – Simple Soiree
Floral Design – Premier Floral & Landscape
Linens – Special Occasions
Tents – Hess Tent Rental
Candy Bar – House of Clarendon
Cakes – The Bake Shoppe at Oregon Dairy
Photography – Leenie Photography
Duo Dance Instruction – Denise Bostdorf
Group Dance Choreography – Jennifer Miller